Yes, we're equally as overwhelmed by the ubiquitous deluge of holiday sales as you are. But all consumerism aside, just like being kind or honest, giving itself is an illustrious quality most of us aspire to having a key part of our social make-up. And yet, although we may showcase generosity around holidays, celebratory occasions, or even during a severe crisis, the truth is most of us don't practice giving on a consistent basis... or at least as much as we'd like.
The reasons we don't give regularly are as understandable as they are plentiful. We're all busy, and with our day planner filled to the brim and self-oriented needs taking precedence, it's easy to forget offering something to anyone outside of our immediate circle. Some of us may feel like we don't have anything to give in the first place – whether we're strapped for resources, time, or emotional bandwidth. Meanwhile, many of us also feel overwhelmed by giving as a whole: we may not be able to commit to a full Saturday to help out at a homeless shelter, or feel many of the world's problems are simply “too big” to be effected by one person's meager donation.
While all these reasons are perfectly valid and easy to empathize with, they don't have to be roadblocks... quite the opposite! That's because the key to giving regularly boils down to a shift in mindset. So, if you're serious about trying to increase your generosity as a new goal – especially as we amp up to begin a fresh year – here's how to fight even the most powerful internal myths.
“Giving takes a ton of time.” While some people may be able to take a month off of work to, say, help a person in need build a house, there are absolutely NO rules that say giving has to be so grandiose. In the style of “everyday giving,” your gift can be as simple as picking up your work-mate's favorite coffee drink while you grab your own, or making your Sunday potluck dish extra health-giving by mixing in some of your favorite superfoods to share... transforming it into something that's delicious, and truly healing. What a beautiful contribution!
“Giving costs a lot of money.” The truth is, giving doesn't have to cost you anything! If you have a tree bearing lots of fruit this season, take a basket of fresh-picked edibles over to a friend's house. If you're sweeping your front sidewalk, sweep your neighbor’s side too. Donate old clothes you no longer wear to charity, or put some old books in a box on curb to perk up someone's day with a freebie. If you look for things to give, you'll be surprised by how much you actually have.
“Giving takes too much energy.” Despite its name, giving has been well documented to actually be incredibly rewarding. The act of giving, and the idea of selflessly making someone else a little bit happier, stimulates the release of endorphins in the “gifter's” brain, promoting a greater feeling of well-being and satisfaction. In fact, one of the most recommended activities for individuals suffering from depression is to get involved in some kind of charity work, but even micro-level giving can have a similar effect as well. You will likely find that giving gives you more energy … not less.
“Giving doesn't matter.” Feeling like the world's problems are too big to solve is not an excuse for inaction. That's because every positive impression does have an impact. Will your $20 donation to a canine rescue center shut down all euthanizations of animals? Not immediately, no. But it will help one more creature receive the care that it needs. Will bringing a friend a cup of superfood soup to honor their weight-loss efforts result in an immediate, right-before-your-eyes change? Unlikely. But it may just be the tangible support they need to stick to their journey. You never know how much of a difference even your smallest effort can make, and these actions combined can ripple into something that really can change the world for the better.